It’s almost Cinco de Mayo! Yahoooooooooo!
Did you ever celebrate Cinco de Mayo growing up? Though I’m nearly full German and part Swedish, I did have the pleasure of celebrating this super fun holiday in many a Spanish class throughout my high school and college years. While I never fully understood some of the traditional cultural practices surrounding holidays like Dia de los Muertos, I totally got behind the celebration of Mexican heritage on May 5th. Plus, it was a great excuse to overindulge in horchata, pastries and grilled corn on a stick! Ay ay!
Origins of Horchata
Horchata, also known as orxata de zufa, is a creamy beverage that’s believed to have originated in Valencia, Spain. It’s popular throughout Europe, Central and South America, and the US. But the ingredients, name, and taste vary by region.
In Mexico and Guatemala, horchata is typically made from rice, cinnamon, and vanilla. But in other regions, it’s made from morro seeds, tigernuts, almonds, sesame seeds, barley, and more! Our version most closely resembles the Mexican and Guatemalan versions, but is plant-based and sweetened with dates instead of sugar.
The thing about horchata is, it’s incredibly sweet and usually loaded with sweetened condensed milk and refined sugar. But, health nuts should rejoice because you can still indulge in this refreshing summer beverage without going into a sugar coma thanks to one little healthy ingredient: dates.
This horchata is very simple to make and requires just 5 ingredients, in true minimalist style. Not including the time it takes the rice to soak, it comes together in less than 20 minutes tops. And the result makes it so worth the effort. Creamy, 100% vegan horchata with hints of cinnamon and vanilla, and perfectly refreshing on a hot day.
I enjoyed my first glass over ice but fully intend on making a horchata cocktail out of the remaining batch. Watch out – boozy horchata inspirations are on their way! In the meantime, Happy Cinco de Mayo!
- 3/4 cup long grain white rice
- 6 cups water (divided)
- 1 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla almond milk (or sub light coconut or rice milk)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup pitted medjool or deglet noor dates (depending on desired sweetness)
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 whole cinnamon stick*
- Soak rice in 2 cups very hot (not boiling water) for 2 hours (amount as original recipe is written // use 1/3 of the total water if altering batch size). The rice should be soft but still very raw – you should be able to snap a piece in half with your fingernail without much effort. Drain and add to a blender.
- Add 4 cups water (amount as original recipe is written // use 2/3 of the total water if altering batch size), dates, vanilla, and the cinnamon stick, top with lid and cover with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splash. Blend for about 1 minute until the date specks are very small and the mixture seems well combined. It doesn’t have to be 100% pulverized.
- Scoop out a small sample with a spoon to test sweetness. If it’s not sweet enough, add more dates (or honey if not vegan).
- In two batches, pour the mixture over a bowl or pitcher covered with cheesecloth, a nut milk bag, very thin towel, or a clean t-shirt or clean pair of panty hose (a tip I learned from My New Roots). I wrapped a rubberband around my bowl to ensure it didn’t come loose, but this isn’t necessary.
- Strain the mixture until only pulp remains in the cloth, squeezing to get every last drop out. It will take a little effort depending on how pulverized your pulp is. Rinse out cloth and set aside for washing.
- Next, stir in almond milk (optional), whisk and transfer to mason jars or a large beverage container with a lid. Chill and serve over ice. Will keep in the fridge for several days.
*Nutrition is a rough estimate.
Nutrition (1 of 6 servings)
Loosely adapted from howtocookmexicanfood